Refused entry across the border into Gujarat, at least 1,000 migrant workers, including women and children who had walked all day to reach the border from Boisar, 65 km away, were on Friday night given shelter in a shuttered hotel in Maharashtra’s Talasari. Past midnight, at least another 1,000 workers and their families were still waiting at the border between Talasari and Gujarat.
Most of the workers reportedly belong to Rajasthan, including many from Rajsamand district, over 700 km away from Talasari. They had walked nine to 12 hours on the Mumbai-Gujarat highway, having left their rented accommodations around manufacturing units clustered in Boisar early on Friday.
Local residents of Talasari said they saw workers and their families trudging along the highway through Friday morning. They first offered to help by offering them lunch at a local temple and a mosque. Later, about 50-60 Talasari residents decided to take their tempos and trucks to drive till Charoti naka and ferry the workers to the border, 24 km away. However, by late evening, locals and police had to step in again after a crowd of nearly 4,000 formed at the border point, unable to proceed and with nowhere else to go.
Asrunissa Chaudhary, a Talasari resident, who helped organise tempos and food for the hungry and exhausted workers, said, “There are so many children too. We bought bananas and bottled water for them, and ferried some of them back to Boisar. We took others to a hotel in Talasari after the owner of Sahyog hotel agreed to help. The shops in Talasari ran out of bottled water because we bought so many. The kids were sobbing and tired after walking all day.” Once space ran out inside the hotel, the families made room for themselves on the concrete square used as a parking lot outside the hotel.
Through the night, at least 1,000 men, women and scores of children were still at the border, with Talasari’s residents bringing them food and water well past midnight, for many the first meal of the day. Locals said several hundreds had made it back to Boisar in tempos, while others were still squatting on the highway at the border, hoping to get permission on Saturday to continue walking. Satish, another local resident and social activist in Talasari, said they organised food for at least 3,000 people who were stranded at the state border throughout the day after Gujarat authorities decided not to permit them to enter.
On Wednesday and Thursday too, hundreds of workers from units in the Boisar MIDC area walked along the Mumbai-Gujarat highway with no means of transportation, some of them hopeful of boarding a bus once they crossed into Gujarat.
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